Aucuba japonica

Aucuba japonica

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The Aucuba japonica is a small evergreen shrub with erect habit originating in Japan. The adult specimens reach about two meters in height, although often the dimensions of these plants remain smaller; the foliage is dense and roundish, the branches and the stem are bright green.
Aucuba is an evergreen shrub extremely used in the furnishing of parks and gardens for its particular resistance to cold, drought, pollution, wind and disease. It is also grown in pots to decorate interior spaces, such as entrances.
If kept in an apartment or interior space, it rarely exceeds the meter, but outside it can reach from 2 to 3.50 m in height and in width.
Aucuba japonica, or simply aucuba, belongs to the Cornaceae family and is native to the Asian continent.
It is characterized by persistent bright green foliage, often speckled. The large oval and leathery leaves, with a serrated edge, are arranged in pairs.
The leaves are large, cuoiose, glossy, and usually the most cultivated species are those with variegated leaves, such as A. j. variegated, with bright green leaves variegated with white, or A. crotonifolia, with green or variegated orange or red leaves.
At the beginning of spring they produce panicles made up of small brown flowers, followed in autumn, in female specimens, by showy red berries, which remain on the plant until spring.
To obtain an abundant production of berries, it is advisable to place at least two neighboring specimens, one male and one female.
The female plants produce small clusters in spring and bright red, inedible, oval-shaped berries at the beginning of winter. But the production of fruits is possible only if the female specimen is planted near a male specimen. Beware of aucuba leaves and berries because they are toxic: ingestion can cause irritation of the oral mucosa, severe gastric disturbances and nausea.


This type of plant prefers semi-shady locations, and fears places in full sun, an element that could ruin the plant seriously if it remains exposed for a long time. These plants are quite hardy and resistant and can adapt even to less than optimal conditions, but too intense sun can ruin them irreparably, while they are much more resistant for what concerns the harsh climate.
This variety, in fact, does not fear the cold, although it is advisable to keep it away from cold winter winds, to avoid that too low temperatures ruin the outer leaves.
Aucuba can be planted in the shade or in partial shade as it does not need much light to grow. In fact it resists very well even in positions with very limited brightness, for example in an entrance hall or on a landing.

Aucuba japonica in short


Gender Aucuba
Type of plant Shrub with decorative foliage
Origin Asian continent
Vegetation Bush
Foliage Persistent
Habit erected
Use Interior, balcony or terrace, borders, hedges or isolated plant
Height at maturity From 60 cm to 3.50 m
Growth rate slow
Diseases and pests Cochineal, gray mold

The speckled varieties take on very beautiful colors in the sun, while the partial shade exposure favors the development of the red berries.
Thanks to the particular aesthetic characteristics and resistance, the aucuba can be used
• to create a hedge
• for borders
• in a courtyard
• for a large evergreen bush in a flower bed
• to decorate a balcony or terrace
• in the interior spaces of a home.
Aucuba does not tolerate high temperatures, instead it resists very well, even if for short periods, at cold temperatures (-150).

Aucuba cultivation Cultivation EasyMaintenance poorExposure Half shade, shadowTopsoil Clay soil, sandy, rich in humusCleaning / Pruning February-AprilWater needs Limitedwatering Regular in summer and sporadic in winterSoil moisture drainedComposting Spring-summer periodPropagation Sowing, cuttingTemperature Ideal temperature: around 200 degrees, but withstands for short periods even at -150.Aucuba in the ground

For the planting of the aucuba in full ground, dig a hole with a depth and a width of about 60 cm.
Remove the remaining roots, pebbles or weeds from the soil, and add organic matter, such as manure. If the soil in which it is planted is not very draining, add coarse sand.
Proceed in this way for the planting:
• place the plant in water to rehydrate it
• untangle the roots if necessary
• place the shrub in the center of the hole
• fill the hole with the soil prepared previously
• press the soil and water it abundantly.
During the following weeks the plant needs abundant watering, especially if the planting was carried out in the spring period. If you intend to create a hedge, place the plants at a certain distance from each other (from 80 cm to about 100 cm).

Aucuba in vase

If you plant the aucuba in a pot, place it in small ceramic or terracotta pots with a diameter of 12 cm to 15 cm if the plant is small, and from 13 cm to 20 cm if the plant is already large.
Place a layer of gravel or expanded clay balls on the bottom of the vase to help drainage. Fill with the soil prepared previously, place the seedling in the center, making sure that the roots are not intertwined. Fill the empty spaces with the soil. Lightly compress the soil and water just a little, place the pot in partial shade, away from direct sunlight.

Aucuba pruning

If the aucuba is used for the realization of a hedge, pruning is necessary, otherwise you can do without it: limit yourself to eliminate the dried leaves and the ruined branches, or thin out the branches, if necessary. Do not prune in autumn or winter, otherwise you risk losing the beautiful berries that adorn the plant throughout the winter, and return it to the February-April period.
In plants used for hedges cut the dry branches, those too weak or that protrude in some way from the plant. The base of the hedge must be wider than the top: in this way all the parts of the plant will be equally illuminated. Plants that have grown too large and are bare at the base can be pruned decisively in April.

Propagation of Aucuba

For sowing
The propagation of aucuba through seeds is a rather long process. Sowing is carried out in autumn in pots or in trays using fresh seeds. When the seedlings have developed, they are repotted in larger containers. The plants are planted after two years. The seeds taken from the different species will produce an identical plant only if it comes from the aucuba japonica.
For cutting
Reproduction by cutting can be done from July to September. From the branches of the aucuba, cuttings are taken 15-20 cm long by cutting with a sharp knife under the knots to facilitate rooting.
Eliminate the leaves at the base, shorten the others and leave those placed at the end of the cutting. Dip the cuttings in the liquid rooting hormone, and plant them in the pots with light and draining soil. Cover with clear plastic or put the jars in a small greenhouse, without exposing them directly to sunlight, at a temperature of about 200 degrees.
In winter protect the plants from frost, but place them in a cool and bright place keeping the soil moist. In the following April, when the roots are out of control, put them in a larger vase or in the ground.

Variety of Aucuba

Variegated Aucuba japonica
A very common female variety due to its ornamental character. It can be placed in full sun, in the shade or in partial shade. The berries are bright red. The leaves are bright green, speckled with white or intense yellow. Spring flowering with small purple flowers.
Aucuba japonica crotonifolia
Variety with a large yellow speckle. It can be placed in the sun or in partial shade. Extremely resistant to low temperatures (up to -150). In autumn it produces red berries.
Aucuba japonica picturata
Variety characterized by a large yellow spot in the central part of the leaves. It can reach a height between 120 cm and 180 cm. Dark green leaves, narrow and serrated. Bright red berries.

Aucuba japonica: Pests and diseases

This type of plant is quite resistant and is not often attacked by diseases and parasites.
Soils that are too humid and poorly drained can, however, favor the onset of root rot; in fact the plant is very sensitive to water stagnation.
Particularly hot summers or too sunny positions can favor the development of fungi, which cause the blackening of the apical leaves.
It is also possible that this type of plant is attacked by scale insects; in this case it is necessary to physically eliminate the parasites with the help of a cotton pad with water and alcohol or with specific products.
Periodically check the leaves to make sure they are not attacked by the mites or from mealybugs. If these pests threaten your plant, try removing them with an alcohol swab. You can also try washing the plant with soap and water. Rub the leaves with a sponge so as to eliminate the parasites and rinse the leaves well to remove the soap.
If the natural mottling of the plant appears faded, probably the light is insufficient, so move the plant to a place more exposed to sunlight.
There loss of leaves it can be caused by excess water in winter or by shortage in summer. Therefore water in a controlled manner in winter and more abundantly in summer.
  • Aucuba

    Aucuba is an evergreen shrub plant native to the Asian continent; currently it is widespread also in Ame

    visit: aucuba

The aucuba calendar


Talea From July to September
Planting September-October or March-April
Flowering Spring
Pruning February, March, April